37 | Case Law

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Case 1

Student: 1st grader with autism who was nonverbal had successfully been using an electronic device to communicate outside of the school environment. Student used the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) when prompted at school; however, continued to be unable to communicate in an effective manner.

Student exhibited behaviors at school that were significant enough to report on an IEP.

School’s Participation: Trialed an iPod and iPad with a communication app but was not successful. Provided communication supports via the PECS that was also ineffective as a communication tool for the student.

Problem: The school continued to use the PECS even though it continued to be an ineffective way for the student to communicate. A behavior plan and AT had not been considered on the IEP.

Results: School was considered in violation of IDEA for not providing a FAPE and was required to provide over 180 hours of compensatory education.

North Hills School District (Pennsylvania SEA 2014)

Case 2

Student: High school freshman with a print disability needing speech-to-text software on a laptop to help with completing longer writing assignments.

School’s Participation: Provided the student with AT on classroom-based computers.

Problem: School did not provide the speech-to-text software on a laptop in a timely manner waiting 7 weeks into the start of the school year.

Results: School was considered in violation of IDEA for not providing  FAPE. Student was denied equal access to the educational programs and services afforded the nondisabled peers.

Iowa State Educational Agency, 112 LRP 27514, (2012)

Case 3

Student: Student with a hearing impairment is not able to call home independently due to lack of a captioned telephone.  Mother offered to provide the district with a captioned telephone.

School’s Participation:  School did not allow the phone stating it was not required for FAPE.

Problem: The ADA requires that districts ensure that communication is effective and shall give primary consideration to the requests of the individual with disabilities (or the student's family in an educational context) when determining what type of aid and service is necessary.

Results: Office of Civil Rights found the school in violation of the ADA.

Seattle (WA) School District N. 1 (67 IDELR 22 (OCR 2015)